On Thursday, the Arden Theatre hosted a special citizenship ceremony, welcoming 38 new citizens.
The ceremony was set up to tie in with Canada’s 150th birthday celebrations. Similar ceremonies happened this week all across the country.
These new Canadians can now enjoy all the benefits of citizenship that many of us take for granted. Unlike those of us who were born in this country, these people actively chose to be Canadian. It’s safe to say, they made a good choice.
Being Canadian is not for everyone. It gets cold here, much colder than many other countries. It can be expensive too, especially compared to other Southern neighbours, Canadians pay a lot of taxes. But for those of us who live here, it’s worth it.
We’ve come a long way since 1867. All of our citizens can participate in our democracy. Our borders stretch from sea to sea to sea, with a wide variety of beautiful scenery and natural resources. Importantly, every citizen is given the right to live, work or visit in any province.
We’re now a country of universal health care and universal education. We’re a country of multiculturalism; people living together from all different parts of the globe. Canada is also one of the safest countries on Earth. We have a reputation for being polite and welcoming. We’re a nation of opportunity.
Canada is not a perfect country and we have some shameful moments in our history. Historically our treatment of aboriginal people, the original Canadians, has frequently been disturbing including the residential schools that separated children from their parents and culture. Some of our mistakes of the past are having a lasting impact today and will continue to be a challenge in the future.
Other events like the Ukrainian internment during the First World War, the Japanese internment during the Second World War and the eugenics movement in Alberta show us we are not immune from hateful and regretful actions. We must learn from these events and continue a path toward reconciliation and improvement.
While the 150 years since Confederation have seen both bad and good moments, what does the future hold for our country? Certainly there are challenges on the horizon, everything from climate change to unemployment from automatization. There are also those who wish to divide us among religious, racial or political lines. We need to be steadfast in our devotion to unity and inclusion.
Despite these challenges, Canada remains in a good position for the future. We are a country rich in natural resources and land. We have a well-educated and diverse population. Canadians have frequently been innovators, everything from inventing insulin to instant replay, and there’s no reason to believe that won’t continue in the future.
Canada is frequently cited as one of the best countries in the world to live in, but we shouldn’t take it for granted. Like the new Canadians who have chosen to be a part of our country, we must continue to build off of our successes, learn from our mistakes and continue to be leaders in the future. Here’s to the next 150 years.